Lowe’s Pins it to Facebook

March 29, 2012

by Julie Primrose

Typically, I would be against companies linking social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook so that the same posts update to each site.  Twitter and Facebook serve separate purposes and are intended to reach different audiences in their own distinct ways.  But I recently saw an example of one company that is leveraging the benefits of two popular social networks to effectively expand its audience engagement.

Earlier this month, Lowe’s was recognized for its decision to add a Pinterest tab to its Facebook page.  According to MediaPost, the home improvement giant was the first major brand to use the new tool to link Pinterest to its Facebook page.  Users can repin, like and comment on Lowe’s Pinterest photos without ever leaving Facebook.

The decision has proven to be a successful one for Lowe’s.  Since linking the two accounts, Lowe’s Pinterest following has grown by more than 32 percent and certain individual pinboards have seen an increase in followers of nearly 60 percent.

A recent study from RJ Metrics found that home décor, and arts and crafts are among the most popular photo categories on Pinterest.  With that in mind, it makes perfect sense for Lowe’s to be using Pinterest as part of its overall social program.  But one of the key downfalls of Pinterest is its apparent inability to attract men, arguably Lowe’s key demographic.

By allowing fans to interact directly with its Pinterest boards from inside Facebook, Lowe’s has done a great job expanding its reach, possibly even attracting more men to follow its Pinterest activities.  In this case, Lowe’s proves that, if done with the right intentions, linking social networks can be an effective way to reach a previously untapped audience.

Selling Home Furnishings Directly to You Since 1984*

March 20, 2012

by Kerry Martin

Just the other week, my husband and I bought a house.  Amid the excitement, I was also a little unnerved—not because of the unstable housing market or the feeling of buyer’s remorse—more so because of an email that was waiting for me in my personal Gmail account when I got back to my computer.

Within two hours of becoming a homeowner, I had already landed onto some email list that Restoration Hardware purchased for direct marketing.  Had I not just spent every dime I had to get that house, I would have been easily distracted by the inviting email offer for discounted drapery and rugs.  But all I could think about was “how did they get my email?!”  In all the paperwork I signed, I did not list my personal email anywhere, and I haven’t ever actually shopped at Restoration Hardware.

I have to hand it to them—this is actually an ingenious marketing campaign to get to the consumer at the right time—just when they’ve made a complementary purchase.  However, the creep factor of how they obtained this information is still a little unsettling.  If Restoration Hardware has some deal with mortgage brokers or real estate agents to capture personal information upon closing, does Zales pass along their customers’ data to wedding planners?  Will Babies “R” Us soon be able to buy patient emails from obstetricians?

What do you think?  Have you come to the point where you don’t care what “they” know about your buying habits, or does this start to feel a little too “1984” to you?

*Restoration Hardware actually started in 1979 according to Wikipedia.

Where Customer Service Begins

March 20, 2012

by Roger Pynn

I love it when my wife and her cousins get together because they represent the best female focus group I’ve ever seen.  The men folk just sit back and listen and smile … waiting for their pearls of wisdom … and as they gathered last weekend after a family funeral, they did not disappoint us when the conversation turned to washing machines.

Their universal disgust over front-loading washing machines that use less water to clean clothes … ostensibly an environmental benefit … turned quickly to a discussion of the seeming inability of manufacturers to explain to you how their products work.

Think about it.  When was the last time you bought anything … a washer and dryer, a computer, a flat screen television or a juicer – that came with simple instructions that actually helped you understand how it worked?

Our little focus group concluded that lousy instructions are perhaps the No. 1 reason they very rarely buy the same brand the next time around.  If only manufacturers could sit in my living room, they’d figure out pretty quickly that customer service isn’t something at the end of an 800 number.

Everything you do communicates … far too often, poorly.  We’re fond of talking about our Five Steps to Professional Success.  The first one says “Focus on what keeps the client awake at night.”  For us, that means our clients … but also our clients’ customers.  End users become one of two things almost from the instant you close the sale:  fanatical fans or loud critics.

Fanatical fans take up a lot less of your time on complaint lines and customer service hotlines if you worry about what keeps them awake at night … i.e., how to make your eco-friendly products do their job.  YouTube is full of videos criticizing these manufacturers.   Too bad there aren’t fanatics out there showing how much they love their new washers.

News at the Speed of Rumor

March 15, 2012

by Dan Ward

In the weeks and months leading up to Dwight Howard’s decision to stay with Orlando, we had all grown tired of the saga.  Will he?  Won’t he?  Did he?  Didn’t he?

We now know the answer (an answer that I suspect has Magic fans dancing in the streets), but in the hours prior to Dwight’s decision, media coverage provided some great comic relief.

At one point Wednesday evening, the Orlando Sentinel website was simultaneously reporting that a) Dwight was leaning toward staying another year, b) Dwight had decided to stay another year but the decision was delayed because of a paperwork snafu, and c) Dwight said he wanted to stay but refused to sign a waiver, meaning he almost certainly would be traded.  (I’m not including links to these stories because in all likelihood they will have changed by the time you read this.)

By Thursday morning, the coverage was down to only two directly opposing headlines:  “Report:  Howard has a remarkable change of heart, will opt-in for 2012-13” and “After topsy-turvy 24 hours, Magic now likely to trade Dwight Howard.”

This is what happens when your daily newspaper decides to compete with the TMZ’s of the world and report as breaking news every new rumor.  There’s no way to keep up, and the result is a mix of stories that say completely different things.

I guess there is a bright side, though.  When your newspaper publishes separate stories that cover “yes,” “no” and “maybe,” one story is bound to be correct.

KONY 2012 Spawning Good Reporting

March 9, 2012

by Roger Pynn 

The instant impact nature of YouTube is amazing.  A new “next big thing” is outstripping all those amazing viral videos that have taken us by storm in the past few years … but are we also seeing a new trend:  media taking the time to question what’s trendy?

NBC’s “Today” show has pretty much jabbered on about the phenomenon of KONY 2012’s skyrocketing viewer stats, all but ignoring their own role in driving millions to the 30-minute film (although one paragraph finally emerged in today’s coverage questioning Invisible Children).

Meanwhile, NPR , CNN, and others began to do a “whoa back” and have actually done some pretty solid reporting on the organization behind it … giving a voice to those who say you should look before you leap into a donation to Invisible Children.

That’s healthy journalism.

Media Mea Culpa Part II

March 8, 2012

by Dan Ward

I wrote recently about the positive way in which media outlets took responsibility for mistaken reporting around Joe Paterno’s death and the close-but-not close-enough way in which the Washington Post “clarified” a misleading report.

Today offered another example of a media mea culpa done right, this time using the immediacy of Twitter.

An early version of a story by Wall Street Journal reporter Julian E. Barnes stated that Sen. John McCain called for “unilateral” military strikes in Syria. Sen. McCain, however, said this wasn’t the case, taking to twitter to say that “WSJ total mischaracterized my position on #Syria today – I’ve never called for “unilateral” airstrikes.”

McCain was right. Barnes was wrong. But rather than simply draft a correction, Barnes took an additional step. He re-tweeted McCain’s comment to his followers and followed up with a tweet of his own: “That was me! I am the one who screwed up @SenJohnMcCain position on Syria. Story fixed.” He then posted the correction that has been added to the digital version of the story.

Kudos to Barnes for taking responsibility for the error, for making the effort to communicate the fix immediately, and for using strong and unambiguous language to make it clear the mistake was his.

It’s a good lesson for all of us. When you screw up, say so. As we say in our Five Steps to Professional Success, “accept total responsibility and be accountable for everything you do.” We all make mistakes. We’re judged on how we respond.

A Joyful Afternoon

March 8, 2012

by Kim Taylor

Over the holidays, the team at Curley & Pynn added a few extra items to their shopping lists—toys for a very special charity, Jarrett’s Joy Cart.

Named for Jarrett Mynear, a six-time cancer sufferer whose life was taken by the disease at age 13, the charity aims to provide joyous moments and experiences for children in crisis.

We’re proud to be led by the team at OrLANtech – who are both our friends and the leaders of the Orlando Chapter – in a toy delivery at Florida Hospital for Children in what promised to be a joyful afternoon.

Want in on the joy?  Find out how you can help here, or join in the conversation on the Jarrett’s Joy Cart Facebook page.

OMG! Breaking News

March 5, 2012

by Roger Pynn

The Public Relations Society of America has made a stunning announcement: it can finally define what we do in the business I’ve been making a living in for more than 40 years.  And guess what?  They’ve just wasted more time and money than I can imagine to:

  1. Do something that was totally unnecessary;
  2. Attempt to define something that has defied definition because of its complexity, flexibility and ability to accommodate change perhaps better than any other profession; and,
  3. Talk to their least important audience … themselves.

Trying to define a business that thrives on an ever-changing media landscape and serves businesses and organizations that are successful because of their unique differences seems almost as fruitless as trying to grow apples that look identical.

Sure, PR people are asked all the time “what exactly do you do?”  Those who feel threatened by that ought to find another job.  We do what you need us to do to communicate with people who are important to you so they will like you, agree with you, buy your products and services, vote for you, support your position on an issue, etc.

What’s important is how we do it … the strategies and tactics behind our solution.

Real Leadership

March 2, 2012

by Roger Pynn

Leaders and leadership fascinate me.  They drive everything … sometimes boisterously, sometimes quietly … sometimes taking all the credit, sometimes crediting others.  Real leaders in my opinion are the quiet, self-effacing ones who accept responsibility for setting a course, know how to keep a gentle hand on the wheel, their eyes on the horizon and their head into the wind for when they encounter an occasional storm.

And, they are always accountable for errors and course-correction.

The last two days I’ve had the great privilege to be part of a community-wide effort to honor a real leader who for 20 years has guided his organization to extraordinary accomplishment, incredible growth and global recognition … a role model for leaders.

As the fourth president of my alma mater, the University of Central Florida, John C. Hitt has become not only a close personal friend, we’ve worked closely on a number of projects important to our region.  Having a front-row seat has offered an extraordinary opportunity to watch and learn from real leadership.

This morning as he was being honored on what both Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs proclaimed John C. Hitt Day in honor of his 20th anniversary as UCF President, he once again focused on all his teammates (faculty, staff and community supporters) who’ve turned this less-than-50-year-old institution into a national powerhouse.  His message:  praise them, not me.

He talks relentlessly about five key goals (ones he used to set the course in 1992 and which last today) … points he has communicated so well they nearly roll off the tongue of nearly everyone at UCF:

  • To offer the best undergraduate      education available in Florida;
  • To achieve international      prominence in key programs of graduate study and research;
  • To provide an international focus      to our curricula and research programs;
  • To become more inclusive and      diverse; and,
  • To be America’s leading      partnership university.

After two decades he still guides by urging people to find their own answers but participates actively in the search, never afraid to make a decision but always working to build broad consensus.  A defensive lineman in college he knows that running a large organization is a team sport and is adept at getting everyone wanting to pull together.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said of Hitt in a letter to The Orlando Sentinel, “I believe John Hitt and Walt Disney have done more to transform Central Florida into a vibrant, dynamic place than any two people in the region’s history.

When a leader like Jeb Bush calls you a leader … and likens you to the man who put Orlando on the map … I’d say you’ve met the test.  I’d also say that you deserve all the accolades and “thank yous” of a grateful community.

In typical style, when responding to a standing ovation, Hitt said, “thank you … thank you … you’re all making way too much of this.”

I hate to contradict a great leader, but no sir … you’re a big deal.

Employee Appreciation in My Own Words

March 2, 2012

by Kim Taylor

Happy National Employee Appreciation Day!  When I read this Inc. headline I wondered why I hadn’t seen a row of Hallmark cards to remind me this day existed.  But, then I thought, who needs a card, we have a blog—and what better place to publicly praise my colleagues, the team at Curley & Pynn.

Roger Pynn
Roger puts the “Pynn” in Curley & Pynn. (Nothing gets by me!)  He’s the consummate connector.  The relationship builder.  The community guy.  The omniscient co-founder whom we rely upon every day.  He’s built this business over more than 27 years and spends his days advising clients in ways too many to mention.

Dan Ward
Many have tried, but few have been able to out-wit my business partner.   But, he’s good for much more than a laugh.  He’s freakishly smart and a dogged client servant.  Better said, if his clients aren’t happy, he’s not happy.   One of the best writers I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

Kerry Martin   
When people say that someone is “wise beyond their years,” I’m pretty sure they’re picturing Kerry in their head.  I marvel at her attention to detail, organization, sponge-like qualities (especially on the hard subjects) and cheerful demeanor … even on Monday mornings.  I learn something from her daily.

Heather Keroes
Heather’s unique and deliberate style is unmatched here.  She’s taught us about the often-untapped world of YouTubers, and balanced out our team with her marketing savvy, social media expertise and vast knowledge of travel and tourism.  And, she knows a thing or two about a Honey Badger.

Julie Primrose
They say never trust the quiet ones, but we trust Julie beyond measure.  Sometimes you just know, and with Julie, we just knew.  She’s precocious and has proven she can tackle any project thrown her way.  I’m not sure what’s in the water out there at UCF, but I hope they keep making them like this.

Connie Gonzalez
Without question, my right hand woman.  Loyalty can’t be taught—it’s innate and Connie proves that every day.  She makes life easier for all of us and makes it look like a breeze.  In her spare time, she plays the role of Super Mom to her four kids.

Jon Hanson
We’ve been lucky enough to have some great interns over the years, and Jon’s no exception … yet another shining example of the strength of UCF’s Ad/PR program.  He’s given us some sage advice about eating oysters, too, that I won’t soon forget.

There you have it; who will you appreciate today?

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